Jeffrey Epstein was arrested in July for allegedly sex-trafficking girls as young as 14

By Maria Pasquini
August 10, 2019 10:56 AM
Jeffrey Epstein
Uncredited/AP/Shutterstock

Jeffrey Epstein has died. He was 66.

The billionaire financier died by apparent suicide in New York City’s Metropolitan Correctional Center almost a month after he was arrested for allegedly sex-trafficking girls as young as 14, according to The New York Times.

The outlet reported that officials confirmed Epstein’s body was found around 7:30 a.m.

Epstein was taken from the jail Saturday morning in cardiac arrest and died at a local hospital, CNN reported. Multiple media outlets, including NBC News and The New York Post, also confirmed Epstein’s death, citing sources.

“I was appalled to learn that Jeffrey Epstein was found dead early this morning from an apparent suicide while in federal custody. Mr. Epstein’s death raises serious questions that must be answered,” Attorney General William P. Barr said in a statement on Saturday. “In addition to the FBI’s investigation, I have consulted with the Inspector General who is opening an investigation into the circumstances of Mr. Epstein’s death.”

A representative at the Bureau of Prisons and the Metropolitan Correctional Center did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment. Epstein’s lawyer also did not immediately respond when contacted by PEOPLE.

Jeffrey Epstein
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Two weeks earlier, Epstein was discovered lying in a fetal position with marks on his neck in his cell, NBC 4 reported. Epstein was said to have been semi-conscious at the time guards discovered him, according to the local outlet.

Though it was not clear how he was injured, Radar Online reported that the medical emergency, which happened in the early morning of July 23, was a result of a suicide attempt.

An assault on Epstein by another inmate was also being investigated as a possible cause of his injuries, sources told NBC 4.

RELATED: Billionaire Jeffrey Epstein Indicted on Accusations He Sexually Abused Girls as Young as 14

The medical emergency came less than a week after Epstein was denied bail following a search warrant that revealed he had a fake passport and stacks of cash hidden in his safe.

The U.S. District Judge Richard Berman said Epstein was considered a flight risk and danger to the community, ordering him to remain behind bars pending trial, which has not yet been set.

Epstein’s attorneys said they planned to appeal the bail ruling, according to NBC 4.

Jeffrey Epstein
Rick Friedman/Getty Images

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In July, PEOPLE confirmed that Epstein, who is well-known for his high-profile connections in the business and political worlds, was accused of sex-trafficking girls as young as 14 years old.

The businessman is charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors. He faced a maximum sentence of 45 years in prison.

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According to a federal indictment unsealed on July 8, Epstein “sexually exploited and abused dozens of minor girls at his homes.” The alleged incidents occurred in several locations, including Manhattan and Palm Beach, Florida. The indictment alleges Epstein paid some victims to recruit additional victims.

The indictment alleges that Epstein would begin his illegal sexual encounters with a “massage” before he would “escalate the nature and scope of physical contact with his victim.”

He was arrested on July 6 after his private jet arrived from France, USA Today previously reported, and pleaded not guilty in a New York courtroom just two days later, according to CNN.

Jeffrey Epstein
Rick Friedman/Getty Images

In a hearing on July 8, a prosecutor told the judge that several people have contacted the US Attorney’s office to allege they were victims of Epstein. According to CNN, the prosecutor also told the judge that Epstein has refused to answer questions about his wealth or assets.

This is not the first time that Epstein has faced sex charges. In 2008, he pleaded guilty in Florida to soliciting a person under 18 for prostitution.

PEOPLE confirmed he was sentenced to 13 months in jail, although he served much of the time in work release at his office in Palm Beach. He was required to register as a sex offender.

Epstein’s attorney, Reid Weingarten, told the judge that the indictment is just a rehash of the 2008 Florida investigation — and that there is no new information in the latest documents.

“To us, this indictment is essentially a do-over,” Weingarten told the court. “This is the very stuff that was investigated by the feds in Florida.”

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